Nov 18, 2010 5:33 PM by Veronica White

Local Olympic Gymnast Battles Diabetes

Multiple gold medal winner in the junior Olympics, Emily Lebert, fights her type 1 diabetes so that she can do what she loves-gymnastics.

Her Olympic training started 4 years ago.

"A coach at another school saw me doing cartwheels and told my mom she should put me in gymnastics," says Emily.

This 12-year-old middle school student at LJ Alleman says diabetes can hold her back when her blood sugar levels aren't stable. Doctors say this is an especially hard problem for athletes.

"They get sweaty, their heart beats fast, (they're) nervous, irritable. If blood sugar gets too low you could end up in a coma" says Endocrinologist Dr. Ghyass Rizk.

Emily handles her diabetes with regulated insulin coming through a patch on her arm called the Omnipod.

"Overall we were able to manage with the injections, but with the pump, especially the Omnipod, its wireless. You're not attached to anything, and whenever you feel you need more insulin you use the remote control," says Dr. Rizk.

In addition to proper medical care, Emily dedicates herself to practicing at least 6 hours a week.

"She is a very hard worker. Standing next to her when she's competing and trying out for the USA team-- it was special. Very special," says her coach, Damon Keely.

"I have to keep my head up high, keep going and getting through it," says Emily.

Emily plans to compete in the Junior Olympics again in the spring of next year.



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